God did not create the natural sun, our wonderful luminary, merely to enlighten our material world; He made it also to be a representation of the excellent perfections which shine in the luminous Heart of the world’s Sovereign Lady.
We should remember that the infinite power of God has divided this great universe into three different states or orders, namely the state of nature, the state of grace and the state of glory. His divine wisdom has nevertheless established such a perfect bond, relationship and resemblance among these three states and among the beings existing in these orders that whatever is in the order of nature is an image of the things belonging to the order of grace, and whatever belongs to the order of nature and grace is a figure of what is to be seen in the state of glory. Hence, the sun, which is truly the heart of the visible world, and the most beautiful and glowing gem of nature, gives us, in spite of its dazzling light, only a very faint shadow of our heavenly Sun, the Heart of the Mother of God.
Sacred Scripture calls the sun an admirable vessel, the work of the Sovereign Lord. “An admirable instrument, the work of the Most High. Great is the Lord that made him” (Ecclus. 43:2, 5). But we can say of the most excellent Heart of the Mother of God that it is an incomparable masterpiece of God’s almighty hand. It is a compendium of all the marvels He has worked in pure creatures, and will be the eternal object of the admiration and delight of angels and men. Great indeed is He who made it, because His divine magnificence appears in her admirable Heart more clearly than in all the other wonderful things of nature, grace and glory.
The sun, which gives light to our visible world and which is, so to speak, its heart, is entirely luminous, is light itself and the source from which the other heavenly bodies receive their light. Mary’s Heart is surrounded, filled, penetrated by light, and her light is incomparably more brilliant and radiant than all the lights of the celestial spaces. It is all light, and after God, it is the first source of the lights which shine in the firmament of the Church. “I made that in the heavens there should rise light that never fails” (Ecclus. 24:6).
The sun is, moreover, the principle of the vegetative, sensitive and animal life in the visible world. The Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary is the source of life of three great worlds. It is the source of life of the Mother of God, who is a world unto herself, filled with marvels far greater and more wonderful than the world we contemplate with our bodily eyes.
But I shall add that the pure Heart of Mary is the source of three different lives to be found in this holy Mother, namely the natural and human life that animated her body on earth; the spiritual and supernatural life which her soul then possessed; and the glorious, eternal life which both her body and soul enjoy in Heaven. Everyone agrees that the heart, in the sense in which we have defined it, is the source of the corporeal life; we must likewise admit that it is the source of love and charity, the virtues which constitute the true life of a Christian soul in time and in eternity, and hence can be said very truly to be the very element which fosters the life of the soul for earth as well as for heaven.
Secondly, the immaculate Heart of Mary is the principle of the life of a second world, infinitely more admirable than the preceding one. What is this world? It is the God-Man, filled with countless rare marvels. Now, this God-Man is the Son of Mary, and Mary’s Heart is consequently the source of His life, since the mother’s heart is the principle of the child’s life as well as her own.
Thirdly, the Heart of the Mother of Our Savior is the origin of life for a third world, composed of true children of God, who are vivified by grace on earth and glory in heaven, because under God they derive both the life of grace and the life of glory from the Mother of Him who is their Head and whose members they themselves are. They are indebted for this benefit to her holy Heart, whose original purity, profound humility and ardent love, made her worthy to become the Mother of God and of all the children of God. St. John Chrysostom is surely right when he says that the heart of St. Paul was “the heart of the whole world. For it is through that apostolic heart that the Spirit of Life was poured forth on all things and given to the members of Jesus Christ.” (1) But how much more true is this of the incomparably loving Heart of the Queen of Apostles? Yes, hers is indeed the heart of the entire world, the heart of Heaven and earth, the heart of the Church Militant, Suffering and Triumphant, since the Holy Spirit bids us sing: Vitam datum per Virginem, gentes redemptae plaudite:
All ye nations, redeemed by the Precious Blood of Jesus Christ, rejoice, sing the praises of your Redeemer and His glorious Mother! You were condemned to eternal death, and the Son of Mary has made you free; the Mother of Jesus has restored life to you, even eternal life, by giving you her Son, who is Life essential and the source of all life.
The solar sun has been in perpetual motion since its creation in space, and it travels so rapidly that mathematicians calculate its speed to be over one million leagues an hour. Similarly, the holy Heart of Mary, from the moment of her Immaculate Conception, has been completely kept in motion by love for God and charity towards mankind. As long as Mary, the admirable Sun of Light and Purity, was on earth, she sped or rather flew with such celerity on the path of sanctity that the speed of our material sun is simply a shadow and a figure by comparison. For this holy Sun, Mary’s immaculate Heart, progressed incomparably farther in the mystical and supernatural way of the world of grace than the material sun which revolves around our visible world.
Sacred Scripture teaches us that the Sun is the tabernacle of God. “He has set his tabernacle in the Sun” (Ps. 18:6). This is infinitely more true of the Heart of the Blessed Virgin Mary. St. Ambrose applies these words to her, and we should refer them especially to her Heart, in which God resides more gloriously and works far greater wonders than in the sun of any universe. I hear the Eternal Father pronounce that the throne of His Only-Begotten Son is like to a Sun before His face: “His throne (is) as the sun before me….” (Ps. 88:38). What is this throne of Christ, if not the Heart of His dearest Mother, which is therefore the ever brilliant Sun shining before the Father of lights?
If the material sun radiates its light, heat and influence over all living things on earth, still more does this mystical Sun, the Heart of Mary, make its holy light, divine warmth and celestial influence felt everywhere in Heaven and earth, over men and angels: “There is no one who can hide himself from his heat” (Ps. 18:7). The earthly sun gladdens with its rays the inhabitants of the lowly world; the heavenly sun enriches the whole universe with its great and boundless charity towards all God’s creatures. Gaudium annuntiat universo mundo. It is the consolation of the suffering souls in Purgatory, the joy of the faithful on earth, the exultation of the angels and saints in heaven, and the delight of the Most Blessed Trinity. St. Germanus of Constantinople calls the Heart of Mary the happiness of the entire world. Commune mundi gaudium. (2) And St. John Damascene says that it is an ocean of inexhaustible delight: Gaudii pelagus inexhaustum. (3)
“Take away the sun that enlightens our material world,” says St. Bernard, “what will become of day or light? Take away Mary, the Star of the Sea, or take away the Heart of Mary, the true Sun of the Christian World, and what would be left? Without Mary’s radiance, nothing is left but enveloping darkness, the shadow of death and the frightful night of the grave.” (4)
O excellent Heart of my Queen, my most amiable Sun, blessed are the hearts that love thee! Happy the minds that meditate on thy greatness, and the tongues that preach and praise thee! Blessed are the eyes that contemplate thee, O radiant Mary! The more they gaze on thee, the greater their desire, the stronger the light and strength they receive to enable them to gaze yet more upon thy dazzling light!
O beautiful Sun, enlighten our darkness, melt our frigidity, dispel the clouds and fogs of our minds, inflame our hearts with thy sacred fire! Make us ever receptive to thy sweet influence, that every Christian virtue may flourish in our souls, so that they may be rendered fertile in all kinds of good works. By thy intercession, obtain that we may lead a heavenly life on earth, and never seek any joy here below except the joy of the children of God, which consists in pleasing their Heavenly Father and obeying His adorable will in all things.
O radiant Sun, let our hearts become like clear and polished mirrors, and be pleased to impress thy likeness on them, that they may bear a perfect image of thy humility, purity and submission to the divine will as well as of thy charity, love, sanctity and all the other virtues and perfection of your admirable Heart. This we ask for the glory of God who made our hearts for Himself alone.
The preceding excerpt is taken from St. John Eudes, Admirable Heart of Mary, Part Two, Chapter III, and edited by the Order of the Sacred and Immaculate Hearts of Jesus and Mary, at www.heartsofjesusandmary.org.
(1) In cap. 16, Epist. Ad Rom. Homil, 23.
(2) Homil. De Nativit. Mariae.
(3) Orat. 2 de dorm. Deip.
(4) In Serm. De Aquaeductu in Nativit. B. Mariae.